(The following applies to Vista Enterprise Edition. Details may be different for other versions)
I've been using Vista for a few days now (see Ref. 1), just long enough to notice that several things are
different from the way they are in XP.
Some things are better, others are worse, and still others I am not sure about.
In this article I will list the annoyances that I noted in the Graphical User Interface (the GUI),
and in a few cases the workarounds
that may help anyone else making the transition from XP to Vista.
Since I am sure to keep running across more during the next few weeks, I hope to edit and update
this page every so often.
There are some improvements as well, and they will be listed in a separate future article.
Windows Explorer has undergone some major changes, and those are important enough to deserve their
own separate article as well, coming up in the near future.
The basic desktop (Fig. 1) is not too different from XP. The main changes of note are the
"Windows Button" in the lower-left corner which has replaced the "Start" button, and the "Gadget Bar"
at the top-right which shows the clock and news headlines by default.
Figure 1 - Vista Desktop - Click on figure to enlarge.
Overall, the color scheme is more pale blues and yellows, with better use of shading and 3D effects.
It is a more "MAC like" look and feel, and probably an improvement.
Figure 2 - Vista Desktop Icons.
The icons seem a bit larger and more three dimensional (Fig. 2).
While an improvement overall, I am not too sure about the way folder icons are displayed.
Instead of the standard yellow box, it now looks like a half-open folder with the contents partially visible.
While the effect is cool looking, it makes it harder to run your eyes across the screen and separate
the folders from other items.
In the example above, the "Apps" folder has the red color of Adobe Acrobat showing, and the "Net" folder
has the green of ActiveSync visible.
I was very used to scanning icons and quickly separating out the folders based on the solid yellow color,
it is more difficult with multi-colored icons.
Prettier, but less useful?
There are a few changes in the UI that might be considered prettier looking, but less useful than their
One good illustration of this is the progress bar that is shown when you copy or move a folder containing
many files from one place to another.
In Windows XP, the progress bar looks something like Fig. 3 below.
Figure 3 - XP File Transfer Progress.
The corresponding progress bar in Vista certainly looks prettier (Fig. 4 below).
Figure 4 - Vista File Transfer Progress.
But on closer inspection there is something missing - the names of the files being transferred.
This is the item circled in red in Fig. 3 above, and it was only when I noticed it missing in Vista did I
realize that this was very important feedback to confirm that the correct files/folders are getting transferred,
and you did not drag the wrong folder over by mistake.
The Vista progress dialog does have a button labeled "More Information" and while this seems promising,
clicking it yields very little new information (Fig. 5 below).
Figure 5 - Vista File Transfer - More Information.
The only information it adds is the transfer speed in bytes/sec, not nearly as useful as knowing the file name(s) :(
There is one improvemnt in this dialog. In XP, you could move the dialog around the desktop, but could not
minimize it (note the lack of a minimize button in Fig. 3).
I considered this an annoyance in XP, and this has been remedied in Vista.
You can now click on the minimize button (see Fig. 5) in Vista, and hide this dialog when so desired - a handy
option during long file transfers.
Fading in, Fading out
A small but regular nuiscance was introduced in Windows 2000, continued in Windows XP, and became worse in Vista.
I refer to the "Fade Effect" when menus and windows pop-up on the screen.
Windows used to appear near-instantly when you right-click on something, or when a new windows was opened, but now the default is
to use the "fade" effect to waste a fraction of a second each time.
While this is a small time for any one window, I find it very annoying because it happens several hundred times each day.
In 2000 and XP, it was easy to disable this effect, you right-clicked on the desktop, selected "Properties", then "Appearence" -> "Effects",
and un-checked the box to "Show transition effects for menus and tooltips" - no more fade effects.
If you try the comparable thing in Vista (right-click on Desktop -> Personlaize -> Window Color and Appearance -> Effects), it leads to a dead-end.
Surprisingly and annoyingly, the option to disable the fade-effect is gone (Fig. 6).
Figure 6 - Where is the option to turn off fade effects?.
Being unable to turn off the fade effects after trying for a few minutes, I put up with them for a couple of weeks, then made another effort
and found the solution, which is as follows:
Start Button (lower-left corner of desktop) -> Control Panel -> System -> Advanced System Settings -> click "Continue" to give permission
-> Performance/Settings -> un-check the box labeled "Fade or Slide menus into view" (see Fig. 7), click OK etc. and suddenly the
time-wasting fade-effects are gone.
Figure 7 - Good bye - Fade Effects.
This illustrates just one of many ways in which things are "hidden" in Vista.
I can think of no reason to move the Fade effects out of the "Desktop -> Personalize" section, other than careless design.
[...To be continued...]
- Installing Vista:
- Windows Vista Product Page:
(in order from older to newest)